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“An essential step to stand up for our shared European values”

EU China

European Democrats MEPs have publicly spoken out to condemn the Chinese government’s sanctions in response to EU sanctions put in place on Monday, 22 March.

On Monday, European Ministers at the Foreign Affairs Council had unanimously adopted sanctions against four Chinese officials as well as one state entity in response to the atrocities committed against the Muslim Uighur minority in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. The US, the UK and Canada also announced sanctions.

Beijing reacted swiftly, sanctioning ten individuals, including the Head of the European Parliament’s China Delegation, Reinhard Bütikofer. The European Council’s Political and Security Committee as well as Parliament’s subcommittee on Human Rights were also targeted, along with two other entities.

German MEP Engin Eroglu (Freie Wähler), member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs as well as the Interparliamentary Alliance on China along with Bütikofer and other sanctioned individuals, co-signed a letter welcoming sanctions on China as an ‘essential step to stand up for our shared European values’. The letter went on to say that European action in light of the human rights violations committed against Uyghurs showed that ‘the EU does not solely defend its economic interests. Now more than ever, the EU can assert itself as a global player in shedding light on all forms of human right abuses, holding those responsible accountable for their actions and upholding human rights at home and abroad.

French MEP Marie-Pierre Vedrenne (MoDem) said: “By imposing sanctions against officials of the Chinese government, Europe has at last shown unity, courage and determination in defending its values…The EU defends universal values which China subscribed to but which it mocks a little more every day. We will continue to denounce the violence against Uighurs as well as the brutal crackdown happening in Hong Kong.

With regards to the European Parliament’s ratification of the investment facilitation agreement (CAI) that the EU and China concluded in December, Marie-Pierre Vedrenne said: “Our Parliament cannot and must not accept to ratify an agreement when its members and one of its committees are under sanctions. Unthinkable and unacceptable! China will not silence us. These Chinese measures once again show the need to build our strategic autonomy, to be uncompromising and to act firmly against violations of trade rules and human rights.

Looking ahead, in his letter to Josep Borrell Fontelles (High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and Charles Michel (President of the European Council), Engin Eroglu added: ‘Against this background, we ask you to take similar actions for the case of Hong Kong, and impose sanctions at government level… We would like to see this call to action by the European Parliament reflected in the upcoming debates and active steps taken on the national and European level. It is vital that the EU Member States stand united and send out a strong signal for the defence and promotion of our common values.